GRAND COUNTY, Colo. — The East Troublesome Fire grew more than 100,000 acres Wednesday, exploding to become the fourth-largest wildfire in Colorado history.
The fire prompted an emergency evacuation of a large area west of Rocky Mountain National Park, including the town of Grand Lake.
All of Rocky Mountain National Park is closed to visitors Thursday due to the fire activity.
FOX21 affiliate KDVR reports the fire showed no signs of laying down overnight, and large pockets of flames were still visible from Highway 40 outside Granby early Thursday morning. Homes have burned in the fire, but we don’t know the scope of the devastation yet.
According to a Facebook post overnight, Gov. Jared Polis has authorized the Colorado National Guard to assist with search and rescue operations in Grand County.
“Unfortunately, today is another fire day,” the fire incident commander said in an update Thursday morning. “We have forecasted high winds coming in this afternoon with cold front passage. We have, again, forecasted dry conditions. And we obviously still have a lot of available fuel this fire continues to spread in. So we anticipate another day of large fire growth.”
Portions of Highways 36, 14, 125, 7, 40, and 34 are closed due to the fire. CDOT is strongly discouraging travel north/northwest of Boulder.
The fire, which started just over a week ago on October 14, had burned 19,086 acres as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to an InciWeb report. At that time, containment was at 10%.
The fire moved east across Highway 125 by 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Strong winds and dry fuel allowed it to grow at a rate of about 6,000 acres per hour, according to the Grand County sheriff. By Thursday morning, it had exploded to 125,602 acres.
The pyrocumulus cloud from the fire was more than 40,000 feet high Wednesday afternoon. It was visible from points up and down the Front Range, including Colorado Springs.
The fire’s overnight growth made it the fourth-largest fire in Colorado history, surpassed only by the Cameron Peak, Pine Gulch, and Hayman fires.
The Cameron Peak Fire, which is still actively burning, has scorched 206,667 acres west of Fort Collins. The Pine Gulch Fire, which was fully contained in late September, burned 139,007 acres north of Grand Junction. The 2002 Hayman fire burned 137,760 acres north of Lake George.